This theme should include the study of at least one detailed case study at the drainage basin level. Reference should be made to additional examples, at a range of scales, in less depth, wherever appropriate.
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1. The water system 3 hours
• The hydrological cycle: Examine the inputs, outputs, stores and transfers of the hydrological cycle. Discuss the causes and consequences of the changing balance between water stored in oceans
• The water balance: Explain the concept of maximum sustainable yield of freshwater in terms of a balance between inputs and outputs.
2. Drainage basins and flooding
• Drainage basins: Examine the functioning of a drainage basin as an open system with inputs, outputs, transfers, stores and feedback loops. 2 hours
• Discharge: Define stream discharge. Examine its relationship to stream flow and channel shape. 1 hour
• Hydrographs: Describe the characteristics of a hydrograph. Examine the reasons for spatial and temporal (short term and long-term) variations in hydrographs. Examine the role of hydrographs in forecasting the magnitude, spatial extent and timing of floods. 3 hours
• Floods Discuss: the natural and human causes and consequences of a specific river flood. 3 hours
3. Management issues and strategies
• Dams and reservoirs: Examine the hydrological changes resulting from the construction of dams and reservoirs. Examine the costs and benefits of dams and reservoirs as part of multi‑purpose schemes. 2 hours
• Floodplain management: Explain the stream channel processes (erosion, transport, deposition) and explain the resultant landforms found on floodplains. Examine the human modifications of a floodplain and their effect on the size and probability of floods. Evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative stream management strategies. 3 hours
• Groundwater management: Explain the functioning and management of artesian basins and aquifers, distinguishing between natural and artificial recharge. Examine the environmental impacts of groundwater abstraction. 2 hours
• Freshwater wetland management: Describe the role of wetlands as a water resource. Evaluate the effectiveness of the management strategies that have been adopted in a major wetland. 2 hours
• Irrigation and agriculture: Examine the environmental impact of agriculture and irrigation on water quality: salinization, agro‑chemical run-off, the pollution of groundwater and the eutrophication of lakes, rivers and wetlands. 3 hours
4. Competing demands for water 6 hours
• Conflicts at the local or national scale: Examine the competing demands for water in a specific river basin. Evaluate the strategies that have been adopted to meet these demands.
• Conflicts at the international scale: Discuss an example of an international conflict related to freshwater.